Military Offensive Open If Rebels Reject Hodeida Pullout: Yemen Govt

Military offensive open if rebels reject Hodeida pullout: Yemen govt

A government offensive on Yemen's Hodeida is still an option if rebels refuse to withdraw from the port city, a minister said Friday, as the warring sides met for UN-brokered talks.

Rimbo, Sweden, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News, app - 7th Dec, 2018 ) :A government offensive on Yemen's Hodeida is still an option if rebels refuse to withdraw from the port city, a minister said Friday, as the warring sides met for UN-brokered talks.

"We are now in negotiations in response to calls by the international community, the UN and the UN envoy. We are still looking into means towards peace," said Agriculture Minister Othman al-Mujalli.

"But if they (the rebels) are not responsive, we have many options, including that of military decisiveness," he said in response to a question on the rebel-held city. "And we are ready." Talks between Yemen's Saudi-backed government and Huthi rebels opened Thursday in Sweden, the first meeting between the two sides in two years in a conflict that has pushed impoverished Yemen to the brink of mass starvation.

While the days leading up to the gathering saw the government and rebels agreeing on a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of wounded insurgents for medical treatment in Oman, both parties dug in on their demands as the talks began.

The talks are expected to cover the fate of Hodeida, a city on Yemen's western coastline that houses the country's most valuable port.

The government accuses the Huthis of arms smuggling through Hodeida -- also a conduit for 90 percent of food imports -- and has demanded the rebels withdraw from the port.

Negotiations will also cover a prisoner swap between the two sides and the potential reopening of Sanaa airport, located in the rebel-held capital and largely shut down for three years. The Saudi-led government camp controls Yemeni airspace and maritime borders.

"We are keen on the opening of Sanaa airport, and we demand the opening of Sanaa airport and we know that the Yemeni citizen should have the right to reach any country in the world through Sanaa airport," said Abdulaziz Jabari, a presidential advisor and member of a Yemeni government delegation at the Sweden talks.

"But... we are looking into who will supervise Sanaa airport."Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the Yemeni government's fight against the rebels in 2015, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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